Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand

 
Always expect trains!

Always expect trains!

Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand

 June 2018    RTF News

Mid-Canterbury drivers might have to do a double-take to figure out why there's a locomotive parked off the railway tracks at the Hatfield-Overdale level crossing in Rakaia.

The life-sized locomotive billboard is actually part of the Expect Trains level crossing safety campaign aimed at increasing compliance with stop signs at level crossings and was installed at the crossing site last month.

The campaign, developed and funded jointly by the New Zealand Transport Agency, KiwiRail and TrackSAFE NZ, is based on research that found that drivers in rural areas can sometimes become complacent around railway level crossings.

"People told the researchers they often drive as if they're on auto-pilot," says TrackSAFE NZ manager Megan Drayton.

"The research found that people did not expect to see a train every time they drove, and this led to complacency, and a failure to stop and look for trains.

"The billboard, transported by Toll NZ, acts as a visual reminder...

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Mid-Canterbury drivers might have to do a double-take to figure out why there's a locomotive parked off the railway tracks at the Hatfield-Overdale level crossing in Rakaia.

The life-sized locomotive billboard is actually part of the Expect Trains level crossing safety campaign aimed at increasing compliance with stop signs at level crossings and was installed at the crossing site last month.

The campaign, developed and funded jointly by the New Zealand Transport Agency, KiwiRail and TrackSAFE NZ, is based on research that found that drivers in rural areas can sometimes become complacent around railway level crossings.

"People told the researchers they often drive as if they're on auto-pilot," says TrackSAFE NZ manager Megan Drayton.

"The research found that people did not expect to see a train every time they drove, and this led to complacency, and a failure to stop and look for trains.

"The billboard, transported by Toll NZ, acts as a visual reminder for drivers to slow down and check for real trains before they cross the railway tracks. It's aimed at reminding people to expect a train at all times, and to stop at the crossing and look both ways."

NZTA senior manager for rail safety Brett Aldridge says: "Local drivers often under-estimate how dangerous railway level crossings can be. And, while train movements might be infrequent, these are huge pieces of equipment and they are absolutely unforgiving.

"Complacency can lead to risky behaviour like failing to carefully look for trains before crossing railway tracks. We really want drivers in rural areas like Rakaia to be aware that failing to check carefully for that train could be a fatal oversight. These collisions also have a devastating effect upon train drivers. We're hoping the life-sized train billboard will alert people to the risk."

This is the first time the campaign has reached the South Island. The Canterbury region was chosen as it has the highest number of railway level crossings and, in particular, a high number of passively-protected crossings (level crossings protected only by Give Way and Stop signs – no bells or barrier arms).

Just under half (47%) of the 1320 public road railway level crossings on KiwiRail's national network are protected by Give Way or Stop signs, with the remainder protected by a combination of bells, alarms and barriers.

The Hatfield-Overdale Road level crossing has had two collisions between a train and a vehicle in the last eight years – resulting in two deaths, one person being serious injured, one person with a minor injury. There was also one near-collision.

There are approximately 11 planned trains a day (not including specials, work trains, charter services, etc) and approximately 150 vehicles a day that pass through the crossing on this section of the Main South Line.

The billboard has previously been installed in the Wairarapa, Central Hawke's Bay, Rangitikei and Ruapehu districts in the North Island.


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